The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mandy Simon, (202) 675-2312;

New ACLU Report And Web Hub Reveal Rise In Political Spying Across United States

Review Finds Incidents In At Least 33 States


Political surveillance and
harassment by U.S. law enforcement agencies are on the rise with
incidents reported in at least 33 states since 9/11, according to a
review published today by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU
also announced the launch of a new "Spyfiles" web hub on domestic
political surveillance, which will serve as a comprehensive resource on
domestic spying.

Political spying - rampant during
the Cold War under the FBI's COINTELPRO, the CIA's Operation Chaos and
other programs - has experienced a steady resurgence in the years
following 9/11 as state and local law enforcement are being urged by
federal law enforcement agencies to participate in counterterrorism
"In our
country, under our Constitution, the authorities aren't allowed to spy
on you unless they have specific and individual suspicion that you are
doing something illegal," said Michael
German, ACLU Policy Counsel and former FBI Special Agent.
"Unfortunately, law enforcement in our country seems to be reverting to
certain old, bad behaviors when it comes to political surveillance.
Our review of these practices has found that Americans have been put
under surveillance or harassed by the police just for deciding to
organize, march, protest, espouse unusual viewpoints and engage in
normal, innocuous behaviors such as writing notes or taking photographs
in public."
The ACLU released its report of 111
incidents in 33 states and the District of Columbia in conjunction with
the launch of its new "Spyfiles" web hub on
domestic political surveillance, which will serve as a major new
resource on domestic spying for the benefit of reporters, researchers,
bloggers and any other interested members of the public. It will
include a database of documents obtained
through state and federal open-records requests as well as links to news
reports and other relevant materials.
"In a democracy, there is no place
for political spying or surveillance or the collection of information
about routine daily activities of citizens by government," said German.
"The ACLU has been warning against domestic political spying for several
years now. From our lawsuits against Defense Department spying in the
middle of the past decade, to our work on fusion centers, to our ongoing
close cooperation with our affiliates in states across the nation to
monitor and combat these activities, the ACLU is determined to prevent
the emergence of a domestic secret police apparatus in this country."
United States law
enforcement agencies, from the FBI to local police, have a long history
of spying on American citizens and infiltrating or otherwise obstructing
political activist groups.
"We are determined to prevent the
emergence of a domestic secret police apparatus in this country," said
German. "Yet, as the ACLU's report shows, these activities continue to
take place with a regularity that shows there are systemic problems at
work that must be monitored closely."
ACLU's Spyfiles page can be found at:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666